“A grandmother can always hope.” Iris smiled then stood up and started to clear the table. Iris was dressed in black slacks and her habitual burgundy cardigan, her salt-and-pepper hair short and curly. Her brown eyes were still bright and full of life. Her body, however, was slowing down. Arthritis had begun to fuse her joints, making her hands and feet painful to use. Flora did everything she could to lessen her grandmother’s responsibilities, but Iris was stubborn and proud. They were characteristics shared by most of the members of the Hays family. “I miss sitting down with all three of you.” Iris glanced at Flora as she added, “I miss your mother. Yesterday was her birthday and it hit me especially hard this year.”
“Oh, Grandma, I’m sorry. I was so busy I didn’t realize.” Flora skirted the table and wrapped her arms around Iris. It had been five and a half years since Autumn Hays had died, but the pain still lingered. “We all miss her, probably always will.”
Flora was closer to her grandmother than she had been to her mother. She always had been. Autumn had been devastated by the loss of her husband when she’d packed up her three daughters and moved back in with Iris. Autumn had withdrawn emotionally from everyone, so Iris had offered the traumatized preschoolers love and support. She did what she could for Autumn as well, but Autumn was a ghost of the woman she had been in her youth. The girls had been too young to fully understand what was happening. All they knew was that Daddy was gone and Mommy was sad all the time.
Images in a photo album were all that Flora had of her father. He had been a soldier who’d died in a war her mother didn’t believe in. Flora would love to know more, but Iris had barely known the man and Autumn had insisted that talking about him was too painful. Flora’s birth certificate said she’d been born in Michigan, but she didn’t have clear memories of anywhere but this modest three-bedroom house in Juneau, Alaska.
Following her grandmother’s example, she carried the nearly full stew pot to the nearest counter then opened a nearby cupboard and took out a large storage container.
“Raina had to work tonight, but where is Aspen?” With a grandmother named Iris and a mother named Autumn, Flora wasn’t surprised that she and her sisters all had names derived from nature. She’d seen people roll their eyes in response to the collection of names, but she thought the tradition was charming.
“Aspen is out with whatshisname again.” Iris frowned and handed Flora a zipper bag for the leftover biscuits. “That boy has no ambition and even less common sense. She needs to take this more seriously.”
Whatshisname’s name was Bill, and Flora agreed with her grandmother. Aspen could do better. Of course, dating prospects were limited in Juneau. The city was large by Alaska’s standards, but a large portion of the population was tourists, many of whom got off cruise ships in the morning and sailed away at sunset.
Juneau residents loved to complain about the tourists, but the city’s economy was heavily dependent on them. All three Hays daughters would not have jobs if it weren’t for tourism. Aspen worked for a ‘whale watching’ tour company. Raina was a waitress in a restaurant walking distance from the ships. And Flora worked at a novelty shop selling T-shirts and souvenirs.
“Aspen is just passing time,” Flora assured her grandmother as she rinsed out the bowls and placed them in the dishwasher. “They both know it’s not serious.”
“And what about you, young lady? When are you going to find a nice young man and settle down?”
Flora winced. The problem was she wasn’t attracted to ‘nice’ young men. She knew steady and dependable equaled a happy marriage much more often than dark and dangerous. Unfortunately, the only men who had ever gotten her heart racing were consummate bad boys. The sort of men who featured prominently in the dreams she’d been having for the past few weeks.
The first dream had been surreal, a non-distinctive blending of impression and sensation. She’d felt restless when she woke up, but she hadn’t remembered anything specific about the dream. The second dream was more focused. She hadn’t been able to see her lovers, but she knew there had been more than one. The dreams had grown longer and more detailed every night since. She could never see her lovers’ faces, but she knew their scents, the texture of their skin, and the fullness of their long, hard cocks thrusting into her trembling body at the same time. Just thinking about it made her shiver and ache. She had never even flirted with the idea of going to bed with two men, but her subconscious was having a field day with the idea.
“I know that look,” Iris scolded. “Your mother was a wild child too. Nothing good ever comes from running after trouble.”
“I’m not running after anything,” Flora argued. “I’ve just had some unusual dreams lately.”
The color drained from her grandmother’s face and she turned off the water. “What sort of dreams?”
“The sort you don’t talk about with your grandmother.”
Iris started to say something then shook her head. “If the dreams persist, I want you to tell me. Have you had any other symptoms?”
“Symptoms? Since when are sexy dreams a symptom of anything other than sexual deprivation? It’s been almost a year since I broke up with Jeff. I think it’s time for me to dust off my dating profile.”
“No, it’s time for you to find a husband,” Iris stressed as she turned back to the sink. “You just turned twenty-five. I’d already had my first child by that age.”
Thank God social standards had changed. Being in a stable relationship would be wonderful, but she was not ready for kids. “I have a few years left before my dotage, Grandma.” Flora took the wet stew pot from Iris and dried it off.
“Why did you end it with Jeff?” Iris persisted. “I liked him, which is more than I can say for most of the boys your sisters bring home.”
Flora set down the pot and leaned back against the counter, studying her grandmother. Iris had been acting strangely for the past few weeks and Flora wasn’t sure why. “All right, Grandma, spit it out. Why are you suddenly so focused on our social lives? You always took a hands-off approach before.”
Iris looked at her then glanced away, fidgeting like a guilty child. “There is safety and security in a permanent relationship.”
She understood security, but why safety? “Are you ready for an empty nest? Is that what this is about? You gave up your independence when you invited Mom to move back in. And your responsibilities tripled when she died, leaving you three teenage girls to raise. We would all understand if you’d had enough.”
“That is not what this is about,” Iris assured her. “This is your home. I would be devastated if all three of you move out. I simply want—”
Thunder reverberated all around them, the sound so loud that it shook the house.
“Holy crap.” Flora ran to the window and pulled back the bright yellow curtains. “Did a tree just fall on a house or something?”
Iris grabbed her arm and pulled her away from the window. “We need to hide.”
Despite the shrillness of her grandmother’s tone, Flora shot her an impatient look. “It was thunder, Grandma, not gunfire. Why would we need to hide?”
As if to answer her question, the kitchen door flew open, smacking against the wall. She jumped back, instinctively raising her arms to ward off whatever was coming. Terror sped her heart and dried out her mouth. Her mind spun trying to explain what was transpiring right in front of her. Three armed soldiers rushed into the kitchen, decked out from head to toe in body armor. Maybe it had been gunfire after all.
She looked at her grandmother and fear gave way to anger. Iris’s face was pale, her features tense, lips trembling. There was no excuse for terrifying an old woman!
“What do you want?” Flora demanded. “You have no right to burst in here like this.”
One of the soldiers walked up to Iris and stated, “Iris Hays, you are under arrest for opening an illegal portal and transporting General Turin’s offspring to a restricted planet without his permission. You are also charged with the kidnapping of Luna Borak and Cara Slanar.”
Flora moved in front of her grandmother, using concern about Iris to make herself brave. “Show me an arrest warrant right now or get the hell out of our house!” It was impossible to gauge his reaction. His helmet had a dark visor so she couldn’t see his face. His form, however, was clearly outlined by the armor. He was well over six feet tall, with broad shoulders, muscular arms, and a sharply tapered torso.
“Move back, Mistress Turin, or I will be forced—”
“My name is Flora Hays. You are clearly in the wrong house.” So how had he known her grandmother’s name? And who was Iris accused of kidnapping?
Rather than argue with her, he motioned one of his companions forward. The second soldier wrapped his arm around Flora and easily dragged her away from Iris.
“Let go of me, you jackass!” She thrashed, twisting and leveraging herself against his chest so she could kick wildly. “You are going to be in so much trouble when you realize—”
“Flora.” Her grandmother’s calm voice cut through Flora’s rising emotions. “This isn’t a mistake. You need to settle down.”
Shocked by the suggestion, Flora stopped fighting. “What are you talking about? This has to be a mistake.”
“Everything will be explained once we are aboard my ship,” the apparent leader told her. “Now, where are the other two?”
“Flora is the sole survivor.” Iris’ answer was immediate and insistent.
He turned his head sharply and said, “You are facing a long and difficult incarceration. Cooperation is in your best interest.” His tone grew gruff and inflexible. “Where are the other two?”
He had to mean her sisters. She wasn’t sure what this was about, but she did not want her sisters mixed up in it. “Grandma’s right. My sisters are dead, just like my parents.”
The leader slung his rifle into the harness strapped to his back then slowly took off his helmet. Each movement was deliberate and intimidating. “I was hoping to talk this over like civilized beings once we are aboard my ship, but clearly you have been on this primitive planet for too long.”
‘Primitive planet’? Did he mean Earth? That inferred that he was from somewhere else. She swallowed hard and focused on the leader.
Closing the distance between them, he cupped her chin. He tilted her head back, ensuring that he had her attention. “I am Commander Draven Aldar and you belong to me.”
“I don’t belong to anyone,” she insisted, twisting out of his hold. The coarse fibers of his glove scratched her skin but she couldn’t drag her gaze away from his face. His skin was so pale it appeared white. Was he wearing theatrical makeup? And prosthetics? The sharpness of his cheekbones was echoed by the rest of his features. He looked human, and yet he didn’t. Long, dark hair had been pulled back from his face and bound at the base of his neck. And his eyes. She had never seen eyes so dark and reflective. There was no difference between his irises and pupils, adding to his alien appearance.
“Your father arranged our union three weeks after your fifteenth birthday, as is the custom on our planet,” he clarified.
“My father died long before I turned fifteen. He couldn’t have arranged anything.” Her mind refused to accept what the visual clues were indicating. She looked at her grandmother, frantically grasping at the last rational explanation. “If this is your idea of a joke, I don’t think it’s funny.” Her grandmother had no reason to arrange this. Still, the alternative was impossible. Real aliens didn’t exist.
Iris licked her lips and looked from Flora to Draven and back. “He could be telling the truth. The custom is real.”
“But he said my father arranged it,” Flora cried, fear sharpening her tone. “What the hell is going on? Do you know this guy?”
Iris looked even more uncomfortable than Flora felt. “Try to stay calm. You need to—”
“If he won’t leave, I will!” She spun around and headed for the front door.
He closed his long fingers around Flora’s upper arm and tingling heat sank into her muscles. It felt electric and intense, stopping just short of painful.
“Don’t touch me.” Confused and afraid of the strange reaction, she jerked her arm out of his grasp.
“There will be time later to correct your rudeness,” he growled out the subtle threat. “Where are Cara and Luna? You will tell me now or there will be consequences.”
“Screw you! I’m not telling you anything.” She couldn’t if she wanted to. She didn’t know anyone by either of those names.
“Flora,” her grandmother cautioned. “He can and will punish you. Altorian discipline is part of why we left.” Iris looked at the commander and said, “Luna works at a local restaurant and Cara is on a date.”
Flora’s jaw dropped and tension banded her chest. The names were wrong, but Iris had just pointed him toward her sisters. Why the fuck would her grandmother help this jerk?
“Give me your communications device,” Draven told Flora, holding out his hand.
“Why?” Her pulse accelerated and she instinctively glanced toward the door. She had to get out of here, get away from him.
“Because I told you to.” His gaze narrowed, flashes of red sparking in the black.
Iris walked across the room and dug her phone out of her purse. Without looking at Flora, she held it out toward Draven.
“Call the other two and tell them to return as quickly as possible. If you warn them in any way, I will add obstruction to the list of crimes already awaiting you.”
Flora saw indecision in her grandmother’s gaze and tried to capture her attention. They could not deliver Aspen and Raina into the hands of this arrogant asshole. She didn’t care if he was from another planet or not. He was dangerous.
“I am losing my patience,” he growled. “Summon them, now!”
“I can’t.” Iris held the phone, her hand shaking. “Do what you must with me. I will not call them.”
He snatched the phone out of her hand and shoved it at Flora. “Contact them.”
She glared at him then took the phone. She had no intention of obeying his order. “Why do you need all three of us? What is this about?”
“None of you belong here. I am taking you home. Now stop arguing and summon them.”
Averting her face so he wouldn’t guess what she was doing, she called nine-one-one and pressed the phone tightly against her face to muffle the speaker. Her breath lodged in her throat as she waited for the call to connect.
The dispatcher greeted her and asked the nature of her emergency.
“Grandma collapsed.” Infusing her tone with urgency and fear took no effort at all. She was already on the verge of tears. “She’s barely breathing. Get over here, right now. Hurry!”
“You are calling from a mobile phone. Please confirm your current location.”
How could she tell the dispatcher without alerting Draven? Fuck it. “Nine zero two zero Long Run Dri—”
Draven grabbed the phone and snapped it in two then tossed the pieces onto the floor. “Damn it, Flora. This need not be so complicated.” He turned to the other soldiers and ordered, “Go! Take Iris to the ship.”
Her grandmother was hurried from the kitchen by the two armored soldiers.
“You will learn your place, Flora Turin, and it will be my pleasure to teach you.” Snatching his helmet off the counter, Draven grabbed Flora’s arm with his other hand and dragged her out into the backyard.
She struggled the entire way, but his strength and determination easily overpowered her efforts. Panting harshly, she looked around, half expecting to find some sort of shuttle parked in the grass. There was nothing but an overgrown lawn and the shadowy outline of trees. So much for all the inferences that they were aliens. A real alien would—
Reality bent and blurred, and then Flora felt herself sucked through space. She screamed but the sound was swallowed by the distortion caused by whatever force had grabbed her. For one terrifying moment, she could no longer feel her body. There was utter blackness and the staggering rush of energy.
Gradually, something solid formed beneath her feet. Her knees wobbled, threatening to collapse as she gasped out, “Oh, God. What the fuck just… What is happening?” She looked around for her grandmother, but she was alone with Draven in a tiny, featureless room. The walls were pale gray, almost silver, but the inset lights gave everything a subtle blue glow.
Without a word, he caught her elbow and guided her forcefully into the corridor. She blinked and tried not to throw up as her surroundings continued to undulate. A doorway to her right slid open and she glimpsed the room beyond. It was a compact cabin like on a submarine—or a spaceship. Holy shit, she was on a spaceship.
Her stomach gradually settled, but her mind seized. This couldn’t be real, yet everything around her confirmed Draven’s story. He was an alien from the planet Altor—and apparently so was she.
Her thoughts settled enough to ask, “Where did you take my grandmother? Is she even my grandmother or was everything she told me a lie?”
“Iris is unharmed, and yes, she is your grandmother. She is locked in a comfortable cabin by now, which is more than she deserves.”
She eased her arm out of his grasp and was surprised when he allowed it. “If my mother and grandmother fled to Earth, they must have had a damn good reason.”
He led her up a curving ramp and down a short corridor that overlooked the main hall below. The shorter hallway was lined with doorways on one side. He suddenly began speaking in a language she didn’t understand. There was no one nearby, but he was still carrying his helmet. Was the helmet sensitive enough to pick up his words or did he have a communications implant?
When the conversation ended, she dared to ask, “What was that about?”
“I told my partner to depart as soon as the other two are onboard.”
“Are you talking about my sisters?”
“I am referring to the females you were raised to believe were your sisters. Much about your life has been a fabrication.”
Her heart sank and her steps lagged. She would deal with her grandmother’s lies later. She had bigger concerns right now. “Have your soldiers found them?”
“With your grandmother’s help.”
She glared up at him. “I don’t believe you. Grandma would never help you.” It was an exaggeration and they both know it. Iris had been cooperating off and on since his arrival. Of course, she had a clear understanding of what was taking place.
He shrugged. “She had no choice.”
Did he mean she’d been pressured into assisting them, or something more alien? Could Altorians read minds? Not sure she wanted to know the answer, she let the subject drop.
He stepped in front of the final door and a scanner beam passed over his face. She tried to see around him, but he pivoted to the side and urged her to enter. This cabin was bigger than the one she’d seen earlier. A surprisingly large bed was separated from the living space by a translucent divider. Other than the roomier size, there wasn’t much to recommend it. Everything was utilitarian and well organized, but impersonal. Did he do anything other than sleep here?
The door slid closed behind him and he set his helmet on a stand nearby. Then he pressed some sort of trigger over his collarbone and his armor liquefied. She watched with wide-eyed wonder as the protective layer was absorbed by his black-on-black uniform.
“How the… what is… how did you do that?” She was too astonished to form an intelligent sounding question.
He shrugged again. “It is a transmorphic polymer called trycinaline, but that is all I know about it. I am a soldier, not a scientist.” Without warning, he grasped her upper arm and dragged her across the room. “Now that we are alone, let me clarify my expectations.” He sat down in one of three tall-backed, yet armless chairs and pulled her between his legs. “When I tell you to do something, you do it. I will not lie to you, but I expect honesty in return. I will not tolerate disrespect or defiance for any reason, is that clear?”
“Respect has to be earned and I am only defiant when—”
He unfastened her jeans before she realized what he was doing.
“Stop it!” She slapped at his hands and tried to twist away, but he worked so fast there was no avoiding his intentions. “Have you lost your fucking mind?” Her jeans were unzipped and down around her ankles when reality set in. Her panties were still in place, but why had he pulled down her pants? She was aboard a ship that he commanded. No one would stop him from doing anything he chose with her. “Please. I don’t want to have sex with you.”
“This is not about what you want.”
Miniature flames flashed hypnotically within his dark eyes. She tugged against his hold but fear was rapidly overtaking her anger. He bent her face down over his leg and held her there with firm pressure on her upper back.
Fear gave way to incredulity. Was this jerk actually going to spank her?
“You belong to me, Flora.” He rested his other hand on her upturned ass as he trapped her legs between his. “You have since you turned fifteen. Earth has made you willful. You must learn Altorian ways.” His hand lifted then smacked down against her bottom.
There was no fucking way she was going to lie here and let this happen. She reared and twisted, punching at his legs, hips, anything else she could reach.
“Fiery spirit is desirable.” As he spoke, he gathered her hands and brought them to the small of her back. “I will help you channel all this energy into something productive.” He grasped both wrists with one long-fingered hand.
She was immobilized now, held in the most demeaning position. He brushed his free hand over her bottom, squeezing the cheeks as if to determine the quality of her flesh.
“You are one twisted fuck,” she sneered, anger flaring again.
He smacked her hard enough to make her gasp, one side and then the other. She gritted her teeth, refusing to cry out. His hand fell again, the interval faster. Her panties dampened the sting, but nothing blocked out the humiliation. She was a grown woman. This was ridiculous.
He spanked her some more, moving the slaps from side to side. “You will be respectful or you will spend a lot of time bent over my lap.” He accented the claim with a flurry of hard spanks.
The discomfort was annoying, but it left behind a sinking heat that made her squirm and press her thighs together.
“If this is how all Altorians treat women, I understand why my mother left.”
He pulled her panties down, baring her bottom. She closed her eyes, refusing to allow the absurd situation to humiliate her. He was the one with issues. Rational men didn’t spank women!
His fingers brushed over her cheeks. His skin was even warmer than hers. “The next few weeks will be hard for you. Our ways are different from the chaos on Earth. We demand order and discipline from all of our people. You, my sweet mate, are no exception.” When his hand connected this time, the sting was sharper, the heat more intense. “You will control your temper.” Whack. “You will stop using profanity.” Whack. Whack. “And you will do what you are told.” Whack, whack, whack.
By the time he’d finished his list, she was shaking with anger and the strangest combination of dread and desire. This wasn’t a game. This alien brute considered her his mate and expected her to obey him. Wasn’t this proof that he could do what he wanted with her?
The spanking went on and on, each slap feeling harder than the last. She tossed her head and yelped, but nothing even slowed his hand. Her pussy ached, throbbing almost as hard as her abused ass. She didn’t understand what one had to do with the other.
The weight of his leg shifted off hers while his fingers played over her sensitized skin. It stung, yet it felt good in a dark, forbidden way that she wasn’t nearly ready to explore.
“Open your legs.”
Had he guessed that this ordeal had made her wet? She pressed her thighs together and fisted her hands.
He slapped each cheek much harder than before. “I do not repeat directives.”
“Go. To. Hell!” She craned her neck, but couldn’t quite see his face.
“Challenging me is foolish,” he cautioned. “You cannot win a battle of wills.”
His hand fell fast and hard, the slaps measured but firm. She cried out and wiggled, unable to avoid the stinging smacks. He was ruthless, clearly intending to spank her into submission.
Anger fueled her struggles, but the insidious heat was much worse than the sting. This was demeaning and painful, so why was it turning her on? “Stop,” she cried out. “Please, stop.”
His next spank became a caress that spread the stimulating heat. “Open your legs right now and I will end the lesson.”
A defeated sob shuddered through her and she let her thighs relax.
He pulled her panties down to her knees then used the toe of his boot to drag them to her ankles. “Wider, mate. Offer me your pussy.”
Teetering between defiance and the need to come, she hesitated. God above, her pussy ached.
“You need my touch. I can smell your arousal.”
She shook her head, not ready to accept that a hard spanking had nearly made her orgasm. Of their own volition, her legs opened and her hips rolled upward.
“Good girl.” He stroked over one hot cheek and then the other before tracing her swollen folds with his fingertips. “You are very wet, my love. Has a spanking ever made you come?”
She shook her head again. “Of course not.” Even to her own ears, she didn’t sound convincing. No one had ever dared discipline her before, so how could she know how she would react?
“Would you like an orgasm?”
Stubbornly pressing her lips together, she kept the words locked inside her mind.
He parted her folds and circled her opening, sliding easily across her wet flesh. “Who does this pussy belong to?” He pushed two of his fingers deep into her needy core. “So warm and snug. I cannot wait to feel this cunt wrapped around my cock.”
She whimpered and grabbed his pant leg, suddenly realizing her hands were free. “My body belongs to me and only me,” she whispered as he slid his fingers in and out.
As if to mock her assertion, her passion-drunk mind expounded on the situation, creating a vivid image to torment her further. She pictured herself on her hands and knees, legs spread wide, ass raised in silent offering. Draven knelt behind her and grasped her hips, then penetrated her aching body with his long, hard cock. She could feel her inner walls opening, burning as they stretched to accommodate his thickness. She whimpered again, hating her own weakness, and confused by the ease with which he had made her desperate.
“The offer is about to expire,” Draven warned as his fingers fucked into her faster.
“Please.” The word slipped out, making her humiliation complete.
“Please what, Flora. Tell your mate what you need.”
Please, please make me come. But all that escaped was a frustrated cry.
He withdrew his fingers, rubbed her clit twice, then lightly swatted her pussy. “You punish yourself with your stubbornness.” He eased her off his lap and onto her knees then stood up. “Right your garments. Your father is waiting for you.”
“My father is dead,” she argued, but she was no longer sure of anything. She struggled to her feet and gingerly eased her panties back into place. The sturdy fabric of her jeans was nearly as painful as the spanking had been, and her pussy ached as badly as her bottom. She moaned and looked at her tormentor. “Is there anything else I can wear? My jeans really hurt.”
“I have other garments for you, but I want you to think about your attitude and what will happen if you do not follow my rules.”
Averting her face before she started glaring, she zipped up her jeans and fastened the waistband.
He led her from the cabin a few moments later and every step she took reinforced the lesson. If she spoke her mind, she would be punished. If she used profanity, she would be punished. If she refused to do something he told her to do, everything ended the same way. With her bent over and her pants around her ankles while he warmed her ass.
No wonder her mother and grandmother found Altor intolerable. What female wouldn’t?
They followed the raised hallway around to the other side of the gallery and Draven stepped in front of the scanner. The door didn’t open immediately as it had at his cabin. Apparently, the occupant had to approve their entry.
When the door slid open, Draven motioned her inside but he did not follow her into the cabin.
She stopped just inside, feeling intensely uncomfortable. The cabin was identical to Draven’s, bed on her left, living area on her right. Iris sat in one of the armless chairs and a male Flora did not recognize stood near her grandmother. He wore a black-on-black uniform that accented his pale skin. His hair was dark brown with just a hint of red. His features weren’t as angular as Draven’s, but he would have a hard time passing for human. Was this really her father? Her hair was closer to red than his, but both shades would be considered auburn. Their gazes locked and her heart missed a beat. She saw the same vivid green eyes staring back in the mirror every morning.
“My name is Azar Turin,” he introduced. “Despite what your mother told you, I am your father.” Without giving Flora a chance to respond, he looked at Iris. “You have ten minutes. Make the most of them.” And then he walked out of the cabin.
Stress and suppressed emotions burst from Flora like a volcano. She rushed across the room, not caring that every step hurt like hell. “What the actual fuck, Grandma! How could you lie to me like this? I don’t even know what species I am. How could you? How could Mom?” She hadn’t even realized she was crying until harsh sobs made it impossible to speak.
Iris stood and wrapped her arms around Flora. “We were trying to protect you. Protect you from exactly what’s happening right now. And you only understand a small portion of it.”
“How did they find us? We’ve been on Earth for two decades. What is different about now?”
“I’m not sure,” Iris admitted. “Have you felt a rush of energy or heard someone’s thoughts?”
The only unusual thing that had happened lately was those erotic dreams and she had no intention of discussing them with her grandmother. “Draven said Raina and Aspen aren’t my sisters. Is that true?”
“They are your cousins. Each of you was born to one of my daughters. They are in the same situation you’re in. That’s why we took them with us.”
Flora had so many questions. How could they possibly get through them in ten minutes? “Is my name different too? I have no idea who I am, do I?”
“You were named after the Altorian goddess of flowers. We just used the Earth equivalent.”
“Is this why you’ve been pressuring us to find ‘mates’?”
Iris nodded. “If you’d found a human husband, it would have invalidated the bonding contract your father established for you.”
Arranged marriages still existed in certain human societies, but she sure as hell didn’t belong to one. She shook away the distraction. Her father had given them ten minutes. She needed as much information as possible before he returned. Forcing her emotions back under control, Flora urged, “Tell me everything.”
“Let’s sit down.” Iris motioned toward the compact sofa against the wall.
“Go ahead. I’m too wound up to sit.” She wasn’t about to admit the truth.
A knowing look came over Iris’ features, but all she said was, “I see.” She went and sat down, then dove right into her explanation. “There are eleven planets in the Altorian star system. Eight are inhabitable, but only four have established populations. Altor and Torret have always been rivals. The rivalry became more contentious as both societies developed space travel and turned their sights toward colonization. Torret attacked an Altorian outpost, but Torret insisted that the moon was in one of the disputed zones so Altor didn’t have the right to be there.”
“All of this happened before you and Mom left?” Flora asked.
“Yes, about two years before. It was obvious that war was just a matter of time, which meant the power triads would become weapons again.”
“Power triads? I don’t know what that is.”
Iris nodded and paused to collect her thoughts. “Power triads were created centuries ago by a team of Altorian mystics and scientists. They found a way to combine the energy of three individuals into a nearly unstoppable force. A triad consists of a source, a conduit, and a controller.”
“Are you talking about technology or… magic?”
“Both, and neither.” She shook her head and sighed. “The development team used technology to edit the DNA of individuals with mystic abilities. Both magic and science were necessary. Does that make sense?”
“I understand the concept, but it is so far beyond human experience that I’m still struggling to understand any of it.”
“You’re not human, Flora. You’re Altorian. That’s the first thing you need to accept.”
And yet her mindset, the entire context for her existence had been developed on Earth. Weren’t those the things that made one human? Rather than wasting time with a nature versus nurture debate, Flora moved on. “You said there are three parts to the triad. Are you talking about equipment or people?”
“People,” Iris told her. “Each triad is made up of three people, two males and a female.”
“And what does each do?”
Iris glanced toward the door then spoke a little faster. “The source is a deep well of raw mystic energy. The conduit is the person through which that energy flows. And the controller holds it all together. Without the controller’s participation the conduit would be consumed by the source. All three parts are necessary for the triad to function.”
“What does this have to do with me?” She already had a pretty good idea. She just needed to know which label they had assigned her.
“Conduits are rare.” Iris’ voice grew hushed, as if she spoke of something forbidden. “They were believed to be extinct for several generations. In truth we were in hiding, living on the fringes of society and meticulously concealing our abilities.”
Her grandmother might be a conduit, but she couldn’t be one. She didn’t have abilities. She wasn’t extraordinary in any way. She sold cheesy souvenirs to tourists. “You are a conduit?”
Iris nodded. “The gift is passed down from mother to daughter. Conduits are always female. Sources and controllers are always male.” Iris paused, giving Flora a moment to absorb what she’d been told. “Your mother refused to allow you to be used to fight a pointless war, so she asked for my help and I gladly gave it.”
“But I have no abilities. How can I be a conduit?”
“We bound your abilities,” Iris rushed on. “We didn’t want them to manifest on Earth. Your mates will unleash your true nature. I’m sure it’s the first thing they’ll do.”
“My mates? As in more than one?” Understanding suddenly unfurled within her, momentarily stealing her breath. “Power triads are life partners. They don’t just work together. This is a polyamorous sort of thing.” Her tone became less uncertain with each statement.
“If you choose to honor the bonding contract, Draven will be your controller. Your source’s name is Noratu Skore.”
“If all I have to do is refuse, why did you and Mom leave the planet?” There was no way it was that simple.
“Bonding contracts are secured with a bride price,” Iris admitted. “According to your father, your price was quite high. If you choose to break the contract, you will be charged the bride price.”
“Are we talking the equivalent of hundreds or thousands of dollars, and how long would I have to pay it back?”
“I don’t know the exact figure, but it would be in the millions. Noratu is elite. The Skore family is one of the richest bloodlines on Altor, and one of the most ruthless.”
“That makes no sense,” Flora cried. “Why would anyone pay the equivalent of millions of dollars to marry me? I’m no one.”
A faint beeping sounded and both women looked toward the door. Shit. Had it been ten minutes already?
Iris made a helpless gesture and blinked back tears. “I’m so sorry we failed you. I don’t know what else we could have done.”
Flora went to her grandmother and leaned down to hug her. “This isn’t your fault. You should have told us the truth, but you risked your life to protect us. It’s hard to be angry about that.”
Azar stepped into the cabin and motioned for Iris to leave. Flora could see the guard waiting in the corridor. If Iris resisted, she would be escorted at gunpoint, no doubt. Flora wanted to object, to insist that Iris be allowed to stay. But Iris silently crossed the room and the door closed behind her.
Strolling across the cabin with his hands clasped behind his back, Azar assessed her silently. “I see more of me in your appearance than your mother.” He reached out and captured a lock of her long auburn hair. “Is that true of your temperament too?”
She snatched her hair out of his light grasp. “How the hell would I know? I’ve never met you before.”
He chuckled. “That would be a yes. Flora is a crude translation of your name, but if it will make you more comfortable, I will continue to refer to you as such.”
“It is the only name I have ever known. Why the hell would I change it now?”
Accepting that with a shrug, he asked, “You just turned twenty-five, correct?”
Shouldn’t you know if you’re my father? She kept the smartass question to herself. “Yes.”
“You were born within months of your cousins, so the other two will be activating soon.”
Her brows scrunched together. What the hell was he talking about? “Raina is twenty, Aspen not quite nineteen.”
Another chuckle rumbled in his chest, though amusement didn’t reach his eyes. “Raina’s real name is Luna. Aspen’s is Cara. Nothing you were told about them is correct.” He unclasped his hands, his posture relaxing as his explanation continued. “Your mother can almost justify taking you off world, but she kidnapped your cousins. To be clear, that means their parents were not informed much less asked for permission. Luna’s father is a prosecutor and intends to try the case himself. Cara’s parents want to avoid a scandal, but they might change their minds once they see how badly she has been corrupted.”
“I don’t care if we are cousins or sisters, or not related at all. We were safer on Earth.”
“You don’t belong on Earth,” he insisted. “Your mother was a self-righteous zealot. She preached pacifism while forcing her beliefs on anyone who didn’t agree with her.”
“I don’t believe you. Mom was selfless and gentle. She—”
“Gentle?” He laughed, a cold, embittered sound. “Your mother was vicious, easily the most ruthless member of our triad.”
“Then she changed significantly when she escaped you, because that was not the woman I knew and loved.”
He ignored the objection. “Your grandmother just explained why you were taken to Earth from their perspective. Now you will hear my side of the story.” He swept his arm toward the small dining table. “Let’s sit down.”
“I’d rather stand.”
“Are you always this obstinate?” His gaze narrowed then he moved to the table and pulled out one of the chairs. Rather than sitting at the table, he swung the chair around to face her. He didn’t bother with further pleasantries. Instead, he began his defense. “As I’m sure Iris told you, Altorian flames, like all power triads, are powerful weapons.”
“There is more than one kind of triad?”
“There are four. I will explain the details after you understand the basics.”
She nodded. “Sorry to interrupt.”
“The destructive power of the triad cannot be denied. However, they are not used to win wars. Their primary purpose is, and has always been, to avoid them.”
“How can a weapon avoid a war?” She hadn’t meant to sound quite so belligerent, but challenge rang through her tone.
“On Earth the concept is called mutual assured destruction. When the program began, the four inhabited worlds in our star system all possessed the same number of power triads. This discouraged any planet from unleashing the weapon.”
“Because the other planets would retaliate in kind?” Nothing he’d said so far contradicted what Iris had told her. It was more like a different perspective of the same events.
She wasn’t sure what she expected from her first interaction with her father, but this history lesson wasn’t it. She moved closer to the table, then carefully lowered herself onto one of the chairs. The worst of the heat had subsided, but her butt was still tender. “Your last few sentences were in the past tense,” she pointed out. “Was that intentional?”
“It was.” He shifted his chair so they faced each other again. If he’d noticed the stiffness of her movements, he didn’t react to it. “Triads were originally created to end a devastating war. All four of our inhabited planets were involved and they were on the verge of tearing each other apart. So, a group of scientists worked with Altorian mystics to create the triads. There were a total of twelve initially; three were assigned to each planet.”
“Why was that enough to end an interplanetary war? It certainly wouldn’t have been on Earth.”
He crossed his legs, looking calm and comfortable. “This is where things become more complicated. The mystics wanted the triads to balance each other out, so they were empowered with similar yet opposite abilities.”
Flora felt her brows scrunch up so she smoothed out her expression. “How can something be similar and opposite at the same time?”
“The triads all manipulate elemental energy, but the specific element is different. Altor was assigned fire, Torret water, Pyron air, and Houkdi ground or in their case sand.”
It was an interesting tale. She had yet to see any evidence that any of it was true, but it was semi-entertaining. Rather than slow down his rambling story with more questions, she just nodded.
“The triads were sent not to their own planet, but to the planet of their opposite element.”
“Fire to water, and sand to air?”
His head dipped as he said, “Exactly. The triads were a powerful deterrent. It took a few demonstrations of their abilities, but the war ended within the year. The deterrent continued to work for centuries, but then one of the triads was killed. This unbalanced the equation and the war resumed until a new triad was created and trained.”
“Grandma insists that I’m a conduit. Was I created by these mystical scientists or was I born with whatever abilities I’m supposed to have?”
“As the first set of triads began producing offspring, many realized that their children had been born with their abilities. This was a pleasant surprise to the originators. They had not realized that the alterations made to the participants’ DNA would become hereditary traits. The gene pool had to be expanded and carefully managed, but creating the abilities is no longer necessary. To answer your question, you were born with your abilities. Your bloodline is one of the strongest in existence today.”
“Why are conduits so rare if the abilities have been incorporated into our genetics?”
He uncrossed his legs and scooted closer to the table. He was starting to look impatient. “Conduits have always been outnumbered, and the genetic manipulation responsible for the abilities made them more likely to bear male offspring. By your grandmother’s generation, it was believed that the gift had gone extinct. And then we learned that they had been hiding from us, intentionally avoiding their destiny.”
A chill raced down her spine and something in his tone made her ask, “How did you meet my mother?”
His dark brows arched and a calculated gleam flashed through his eyes. “She was recovered during one of our raids and taken to the Citadel. I first saw her there.”
“What is the Citadel?” She knew what the word meant, but he’d said it with obvious specificity.
“Triads receive their formal training at the Citadel. It is a space station centrally located in our star system. It is a country unto itself, with its own governing body and law enforcement. Once your mates have determined that your bonding is secure, you will venture there to learn how to use your gifts.”
Her mates decided she didn’t belong on Earth. They decided they would claim her. They would decide when she was ready to be trained. Was there anything about this that she got to decide? “You’re a controller, aren’t you?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Your mannerisms remind me of Draven.” When he just stared at her silently, she lashed out, “Did my mother ever love you?”
She’d meant the question as an insult, but he seemed amused instead. “Love is not necessary to function as a triad. She was fond of Otal. With me and Autumn it was intense but often combative.”
He was trying to make her understand his point of view, but all she knew for sure was that her mother and grandmother had been completely justified in running away. “Was she allowed to choose which triad to participate in or if she wanted to participate at all?”
“You must stop thinking like a human. Humans are selfish and frivolous. You must rise above your upbringing. You have been born with an extraordinary gift. Is it wrong that we expect you to use it to save thousands, perhaps millions of lives?”
She licked her lips and gazed past him for a moment. “How do I know that any of this is true?” She dragged her gaze back to him as her anxiety started to rise. As soon as this conversation was over, he would take her back to Draven. She had no intention of giving in without a fight, so that likely meant more pain and humiliation.
“Which part of it do you doubt?” he asked. “You are on a spaceship and your grandmother told you about the triads before I did. Do you not trust her?”
How had he known what her grandmother told her? Was this cabin under surveillance? Probably. “I’ve heard about these mystical powers, but I’ve never seen any evidence that they exist.”
He said something in a language she didn’t understand. She thought she heard the name Noratu. Wasn’t that the other member of her triad?
“He will be here momentarily,” he told her without explaining who he meant.
They lapsed into silence as they waited for whomever Azar had summoned. The door slid open a few minutes later and an Altorian male walked into the cabin. He wore the same black uniform as everyone else, but his appearance was strikingly different. Where Draven’s and Azar’s skin was chalk white, this male’s skin was golden. His features were more rounded and his hair was the most fascinating combination of yellow, orange, and red. Their gazes met and locked. Flora felt surrounded by liquid gold. He was… beautiful.
“Noratu, your mate does not believe that our power exists. Would you mind giving her a small demonstration?”
Without breaking eye contact with her, Noratu ambled over to the table. “It is wonderful to finally meet you, Flora. As you heard, I am Noratu.”
She held out her hand without thinking. Did Altorians shake hands? He wrapped his long, golden fingers around hers, but didn’t shake her hand. Instead, he raised it to his lips and pressed a kiss to her knuckles. Tingling heat swirled up her arm, hardening her nipples and making her clit twitch. She snatched her hand back, disconcerted but not surprised. She’d felt a rush of awareness when Draven touched her too.
“Are you alright?” His voice was deep, yet smooth. It lacked the rumbling growl of Draven’s.
She nodded, still unnerved.
He glanced at Azar as he began the demonstration. “Altorian fire is real.” He held up his hand and the color of his fingernails darkened from gold to red, then miniature flames burst to life on the tip of each finger.
She rolled her eyes. “I’ve seen human magicians perform that trick.”
He grinned, holding his hand so his palm was flat at just below her eye level. The tiny flames floated down his fingers and joined in the palm of his hand. The joined flame became a ball that gradually grew in size and intensity.
Mesmerized by the churning sphere, she stretched out her hand. She could feel the heat on her fingertips, but part of her needed to believe it was some sort of trick. Her hand inched closer and the heat intensified.
Noratu quickly made a fist and shook his head. “Until we are bound, my flames can seriously burn you.”
“The triad must be balanced,” her father reiterated. “Without the controller, the source consumes the conduit. And without the conduit, the power cannot flow out into the world.”
When Noratu uncurled his fingers, the fireball had become shimmering energy. It fluctuated from yellow, to orange, then red, yet it no longer radiated heat. “I manifested at eight. Draven sensed his power even earlier. With your family history, we are hoping to do amazing things together.”
She looked from Noratu to Azar and back. “I don’t know what that means. What is my family history?”
“I was not quite finished with my explanation,” Azar told Noratu. “You can wait in the corridor. It will only take a moment or two.”
Noratu dispersed the energy then lowered his arm. “As you wish, General Turin.”
Had he meant to sound sarcastic or was she just freaked out by all of this? Tension built with each step Noratu took. She wasn’t sure what else her father could possibly say, but she suspected she wouldn’t like it.
“I am career military.” He pushed back his chair and stood up as he went on. “Despite my humble birth, I have acquired respect and acclaim because of my abilities as a controller and because I’m a damn good soldier. Negotiating a bonding contract with Noratu’s parents was a nearly miraculous accomplishment. The Skores are one of the premier families on Altor. They could have bound their son to whomever they wanted, but they chose my contract over hundreds of others.”
“Why?” He was all stern-faced, cold-eyed controller now. He was no longer trying to be personable.
“Your mother was exceptional. She was a skilled conduit, but she also had source energy. It was like having an axillary fuel tank whenever Otal was running low. It gave us a level of control and an intensity of output that no other triad had ever achieved. We had you tested at four and both gifts were already detectible. The Skore family was determined to claim the most sought-after female on the planet for their only son, so they offered the largest bride price in history.”
“I guess if I have to be sold, I’m glad I went for a high price.” She was anything but flattered by the information. The highest bride price in history was what it would cost her if she broke the bonding contract.
Rather than commenting on her snark, he continued his explanation. “Needless to say, when your bitch of a mother disappeared with you and two other conduits, I wasn’t the only one who was furious. Bonding contracts are not finalized until the conduit is fifteen, but verbal agreements are often entered into at birth. The Skores paid half of the bride price up front. Luna and Cara also had preliminary agreements with potential triads.”
“None of that is my fault,” Flora objected. “Why should I be punished for the decisions my mother made?”
His eyes narrowed and his voice dropped to a menacing growl. “The only ones who were punished for your mother’s decisions were Otal and me! You are being offered a phenomenal opportunity.”
Arguing with him was pointless, so she asked, “How were you punished?”
“Not only did your mother reject her triad, she rejected the other families. Elite Altorians do not take that sort of insult lightly. They retaliate. Otal and I failed to control our mate, so we were publicly ridiculed. We were excluded from polite society and humiliated. I no longer belonged to a power triad so I was stripped of my command. My new assignment was a routine patrol in a deserted sector of our star system. If it weren’t for the war with Torret, I would be there still.”
Flora looked up at him silently. She’d yet to hear the ultimatum, but she had no doubt it was coming.
“One of two things is about to happen. One, you honor the contract and willingly submit to your mates, thereby restoring the good name of your family.” He paused for effect. “Or two, you continue to pretend that you are human. You argue and fight, you defy your mates until they are forced to punish you. If you choose the human option, I will prosecute your grandmother to the full extent of the law and insist that the other families do also.”
She gasped. “You’re blackmailing me?”
“No, I am explaining your choices. Don’t human females like choices?”
“And if I submit, what happens to Grandma then?”
“I will drop all charges against her and encourage the other families to do the same.”
She bit back a string of vile names. What a manipulative bastard. “I understand exactly why my mother ran away.”
“Did your father answer all of your questions?” Noratu asked as they walked along the gallery leading back to Draven’s cabin.
Flora was too angry to be civil so she just nodded. Open her legs to save her grandmother or follow her convictions and send her grandmother to prison. What kind of fucked-up choice was that?
Noratu lightly touched her arm and Flora gasped, snapping her head around to look at him. Tingling heat sensitized her skin and made her nipples harden. Again. Was he doing that intentionally? “I didn’t want to leave Earth. I sure as hell don’t want to join some magic ménage à trois.”
He smiled at her, his golden eyes shimmering. “How do you know? Have you ever been part of a magic ménage à trois?”
She glanced at him, wondering how he’d known what the phrase meant. Had he simply used context or was technology involved? His English was fluent with just a faint accent. Perhaps the Altorians had a device similar to the universal translator that allowed them to… this wasn’t a television show! This was real, and it might well be her life from this point on. She shoved the details to the back of her mind and refocused on the most important issue, ensuring her grandmother’s safety.
Noratu and Draven hadn’t negotiated the bonding contract. Their parents had. Could they release her from it if she convinced them that she wouldn’t make a good mate? Noratu seemed nicer than Draven, more reasonable. “I want no part of this. My grandmother is in custody right now for kidnapping a couple of girls. I was just taken from Earth without my permission. Who will be punished for my abduction?”
They reached the door to Draven’s cabin and Noratu triggered the scanner. “You were not kidnapped. You were rescued. And you do not understand what you are refusing,” he said as they waited for Draven to let them in. “Would it not be better to take your time and make an informed decision?”
“Not if that involves having sex with two complete strangers.”
“Amazing sex is a minuscule part of what we are offering. It’s important that you understand that.”
“I understand all that I need to,” she muttered. What was taking Draven so long?
“Your energy has a unique rhythm.” Noratu searched her gaze, his expression tense and assessing. “Are all of your relatives Altorian?”
“How would I know? I thought I was human an hour ago.” Hearing the bitchiness in her tone, Flora sighed. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to take this out on you. You’re the only one who hasn’t been horrible.”
“The night is young.” He grinned. “I suspect you will think I’m just as horrible as the others before we reach our destination.”
The door opened so she rushed inside, putting as much distance between her and Noratu as possible. Draven stood near the dining table looking grim and imperious. Perfect. Her challengers were smoldering charm and icy control.
She positioned herself so she could see both males. They were each attractive in their own way, but so very different. Similar yet opposite. Wasn’t that the phrase her father had used? “If I don’t agree to this triad, my loving father has threatened to send my grandmother to prison for the rest of her life. Are you guys okay with him using an old woman to manipulate me?”
Draven crossed the room, his movements slow and purposeful, like a panther stalking its prey. His dark hair shone with midnight-blue highlights and flashes of red already sparked within his eyes. “You do not even understand what you are. Until you do, the rest of this conversation is pointless.”
Automatically backing up, she soon found herself trapped between Noratu and Draven.
“Do not fear us, firebird.” Noratu gathered her hair and lifted it away from her neck. Then he bent and pressed his lips against her skin. “There is nothing more natural than sharing pleasure with your mates.”
She felt the subtle stroke of his tongue and then heat curled through her entire body, lodging right between her thighs. She moaned, shocked and a little afraid of the intensity he’d created with such a simple caress.
“We know you are confused,” Draven joined in, his tone low and darkly caressing. “Trust us just this once and everything will make more sense.” He caught the hem of her sweater and started to draw it upward.
“Wait,” she cried, trapping the material against her midriff. “Can’t we get to know each other better before we do this?”
“Are you a virgin?” Noratu asked, sounding slightly impatient.
“There was no barrier when I fingered her,” Draven told him, his tone matter-of-fact.
“There is not always a barrier,” Noratu pointed out. “And a cock is not the only thing that can enter a pussy.”
Flora closed her eyes, mortified by the conversation.
“Answer him,” Draven directed. “Have you ever been mounted?”
She opened her eyes and glared at him. “No, I’ve never been ‘mounted.’ I’m not a fucking horse. I have, however, had sex before. Not that it’s any of your business.”
“Everything about you is our business.” Draven whipped her sweater off and unfastened the front clasp on her bra with shocking speed. “If you have been with human males than what we are about to do will be familiar.”
“That doesn’t mean I want to do it with you!” She slapped his hands away as he tried to draw the bra straps down her arms. His expression hardened and fear shoved aside her modesty. She went wild, hitting and kicking until she broke free. “I am not having sex with you, either of you!” She darted across the room, frantically refastening her bra. “I don’t care how you justify it.” She looked around for her sweater and spotted it on the floor at Draven’s feet.
“A psychic link is necessary to unbind your abilities,” Noratu explained. “We can create the link without having sex, but it is much more painful that way.”
“So, leave my abilities bound,” she cried, desperation making her voice shrill. If she let them seduce her, it would seal her fate. That much was obvious. Life as she’d known it would end forever, and the alternative had been enough to send her mother racing to another planet. “I’ve lived for twenty-five years without magic powers. I have no need for them now.”
“That’s not an option.” Draven stalked toward her, gaze narrowed and gleaming. “What your mother did to you is unnatural, likely harmful. It must be undone. Once that has been accomplished, we will see how you feel about the rest.”
“I do not want my power unbound.” That wasn’t accurate. She was curious about the abilities everyone claimed she possessed. She just didn’t want to become a commodity because of it.
Draven looked at Noratu. Noratu’s expression tensed and then he shook his head. They were communicating telepathically, or in some way that she couldn’t hear.
Suddenly Draven looked at her and resumed his advance, not stopping until he stood right in front of her. “Your father has been searching for you for over twenty years. Did you not wonder how we were able to find you now?”
“I don’t care.” It was another lie. She held her ground, refusing to let him intimidate her.
Noratu chuckled, but Draven was not amused. He crossed his arms over his chest and narrowed his gaze. “Have you had any interesting dreams lately?”
Her eyes widened and she fought back a gasp. “That was you?”
“In a way,” he admitted. “A psychic thread was woven between your mind and Noratu’s when his parents paid the first half of the bride price. I was brought into the connection when the official contract was signed.”
She was staggered by the implications. “You’ve been able to sense me since I was fifteen?”
Noratu shook his head. “The connection was dampened because your abilities were bound. We had the assurance of knowing that you were still alive, but that was about all. Two weeks ago we felt the connection clearly again.”
“So, you slipped into my mind and filled it with obscene dreams?”
“You cannot blame those images on us,” Draven insisted, one corner of his mouth lifting in a subtle grin. “We enjoyed sharing pleasure with you immensely, but the content of those dreams was entirely your doing. Your body hungers for its mates. Even before you knew we existed, your subconscious reached out for us.”
“I don’t believe you.” She swallowed with difficulty and averted her gaze. Those dreams had been detailed and intensely erotic. All she had to do was close her eyes and she could feel them touching her, filling her, thrusting hard into her, front and back. “What does this have to do with finding me?”
“We used the connection to track you,” Draven told her. “It also proves that your mind is attempting to free itself from the unnatural bonds. The energy you possess is powerful. With or without our help, it will find a way out.”
“He’s right.” Noratu pressed in close behind her again, lightly resting his hands on her hips. “If we do not release your energy, it will burst free on its own. That could be destructive to you and others.”
His touch was making her restless and hot. It was as if she could sense the fire inside him, seething, churning, searching for a path through which to escape.
“Stop being obstinate and finish undressing so we can begin the ritual.”
Rather than argue with Draven, she crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him. They didn’t care about her. How could they? They didn’t know her. They were desperate to possess a conduit. Unfortunately for them, she didn’t believe in war. She thought killing to bring about peace was irrational. “I want to speak with my grandmother.”
“You are stalling,” Draven countered. “You know everything you need to know until your power has been released.”
“Flora, there is no reason for your stubbornness,” Noratu coaxed. “We will not harm you. You have my word.”
“The more we rationalize, the more she argues,” Draven concluded, meeting Noratu’s gaze over her head. After another moment of silence communication, his penetrating gaze shifted back to her. “What did I tell you when I first brought you to this cabin?”
She continued to glare in silent protest.
“There are consequences for disobedience. You were given a directive. Obey it now or you will be punished.”
He’d spanked her already and she’d survived. She was not going to strip off her clothes and open her thighs simply because he’d issued the order.
They both pounced at the same time. Flora cried out, shocked by their sudden aggression. Draven ripped open her bra and dragged the straps down her arms then he spun her around so Noratu could work on her jeans. Draven trapped her arms at her sides, so Noratu could pull off her shoes and then her jeans and panties. In less than a minute she was naked and bent over the foot of the bed.
“I hate you! I hate you both!”
Noratu held her down while Draven spanked her. There were no teasing caresses, no further warnings, he just slapped her bottom over and over. She screamed and called him every vile name she knew, but nothing she did affected his behavior. His hand fell steadily, the impact firm yet controlled. Her bottom was still tender from before, so the swats hurt even more than they had the first time.
Struggling against Noratu’s hold quickly tired her. She fisted her hands and squeezed her eyes shut, trying to tune out the discomfort and indignity. She was naked and helpless in front of two strangers. She was completely at their mercy. They could, and soon would do whatever they wanted with her.
An odd ache erupted in her core as her mind raced on ahead. Would they fuck her one at a time or together as they had in her dreams? Maybe one would hold her down while the other ravaged her, taking what he wanted regardless of her protests. The possibility should have been horrifying. Instead, she was titillated, aroused. She’d always been attracted to strong, aggressive men, and these two validated her grandmother’s warnings.
Draven’s hand continued to fall, the sting compounding. She squirmed, upset more by the stimulating heat than the discomfort. She pressed her thighs together trying to combat the ache. They had a contract that made her their mate. From their perspective, fucking her was the next logical step. They honestly believed that she was the one being unreasonable.
Frustration welled inside her, filling her eyes with tears. She wasn’t afraid of the pain. Even the humiliation was bearable. But how was she supposed to combat her own desire? Her nipples pebbled against the bedding and her clit began to tingle. Her core ached and her entire body felt feverish. She rocked her hips, unable to stop the instinctive movement.
“Open your legs,” Draven ordered.
She knew damn well what he’d find if she did. She shook her head, muffling a moan against the bedding.
Draven forced her legs apart with his feet, then slapped the insides of her thighs. “When I tell you to do something, do it!”
“Is she as wet as she smells?” Noratu asked.
Draven slipped his hand between her thighs and stroked her slippery folds. “Oh, yes. So very wet.”
A fresh rush of humiliation washed over Flora. Why did having her bottom bared and spanked make her desperate for sex? It didn’t make sense. One had nothing to do with the other. Even so, she couldn’t deny the connection. Something about discipline aroused her passions, made her ache to be taken roughly.
“Your upbringing has left you at a distinct disadvantage.” Compassion made Noratu’s voice low and velvety. He drew her arms above her head and wrapped his fingers around her wrists. This left his other hand free to wander. “You must learn what it means to be Altorian.” He caressed her shoulders and back, dipping down along her sides to tease the swell of her breasts. Then his fingers trailed over her burning ass cheeks, reigniting the sting and intensifying the heat. “Your body recognizes its masters. Your instincts are urging you to submit.”
Draven picked up where Noratu left off. “You have been taught that surrender equals weakness.” He continued to tease her pussy with feather-light touches, but his passion-thickened voice promised more pain. “You are not human. You must be dominated. Only by surrendering control will you ever find contentment.”
She shook her head. She was a strong independent woman. She would never want someone to ‘master’ her. And yet images from her past mocked her conclusion. She’d had a grand total of two lovers. Both had been tender, making love to her patiently. She’d enjoyed being with them, but something was always missing. She’d lain in bed after sex and longed for something she couldn’t quite define, something elusive and just out of reach.
Easing one of his fingers between her folds, Draven found her clit and rubbed over and around the sensitive nub. “We can make you feel better than you ever imagined. All you have to do is stop resisting.”
She shook her head again. Accepting them as masters made her a slave, and she would never agree to something so demeaning. “I don’t want to be Altorian. I don’t want you.”
“That seems unlikely.” His tone mocked her as he slipped two of his fingers into her aching core. “This feels pretty willing to me.”
Her inner muscles tightened around his fingers, savoring the fullness. She’d never needed sex this badly before and they’d barely begun to touch her. Draven slid his fingers in and out, teasing her with his gentleness. “Noratu is desperate to fuck you. Say please and his cock is yours.”
She pressed her lips together, but the word echoed through her mind. Please, please, please!
Draven withdrew his fingers and spanked her pussy, two stinging slaps that left her shocked and gasping. “If you deny us all the pleasure we crave, I’ll have no choice but to administer pain.”
“No,” she cried. Her emotions were too raw for more punishment. The smack of his wet fingers intensified the throbbing in her core. “Don’t spank me there.”
“You will end each sentence with ‘sir’ and refer to us as Master D and Master N respectively. Do you understand this expectation?”
“Yes, sir.” She sounded as defeated as she felt.
“And would you rather have your pussy spanked or fucked?”
“I don’t want either,” she sobbed. “Please, sir, I want to go home.”
“We are taking you home,” Draven insisted. “Now make your choice. Pleasure or pain. Power or humiliation.”
She was emotionally exhausted and her core ached. Instincts she didn’t understand were urging her to surrender control to these domineering strangers and find out if all they promised was real. She had no money, no way to return to Earth. Did she even want to return to Earth? Her life had been pretty damn boring before. But all that waited for her on Altor was sexual slavery and war.
“I’m still waiting,” Draven said. “Give me your answer.”
Before her body could decide for her, Flora’s stubborn mind surged anew. None of their choices were actually choices because she never wanted either option. This was manipulation, psychological bullying. Anger flared and Flora snapped, “I will never give in to you, sir!”
“Is that so?”
He moved out of her line of sight and she heard a subtle swishing. Had he left the cabin? She struggled against Noratu’s hold, desperate to figure out what was happening.
“You brought this on yourself.” Noratu’s tone was low and rough with disappointment. “We hoped that you would cooperate if you understood the situation. Apparently, your human upbringing has corrupted you more completely than we realized.”
“Anyone with an opinion different from yours is ‘corrupted’?” She turned her head sharply so she could look at him. “That’s a form of bigotry.”
Fingers stroked down her spine and eased into the valley between her bottom cheeks. She gasped and tensed. Apparently, Draven hadn’t left the room after all.
“Enough talk,” Draven said. “You chose pain and now you will reap the rewards of that decision.”
“I chose nothing. I refuse to play these games.”
Ignoring her outburst, he pulled her cheeks apart and drizzled something cool over and around her puckered opening.
“What are you doing?” Was he going to fuck her ass as punishment for her defiance? “I don’t want that. I’ll do what you say, just don’t…” She couldn’t even speak the words out loud. She’d never let a man put so much as a finger in her bottom. There was something intensely naughty about anal sex and she’d never felt comfortable enough with her partners to cross that line.
“You are no longer in control. You chose pain over pleasure, so pain is what you’ll receive.” He circled her tightest hole, pushing against the stubborn opening until the tip of his finger was inside her.
She held perfectly still, feeling invaded and ashamed. Her temper had unleashed his cruelty. If half of what they said was true, she would benefit from this ‘ritual.’ Like Noratu said, she’d brought this on herself.
Draven pushed his finger deeper. “Your body belongs to us now. We will protect and provide for you, but you must obey us.” He pulled nearly out, then drove deep again.
She clenched her fists and tried to ignore the fluttering in her core. His finger slowly fucked her, staking his claim on her most shameful hole. He worked a second finger in beside the first and thrust a little faster. It felt odd, invasive, yet undeniably arousing. She squeezed her eyes shut and imagined that his cock was teaching her this lesson. She would stretch tight around him, her virgin hole forced open by his thickness. She muffled a moan against the bed, but her hips rolled upward in silent invitation.
Draven chuckled. “Your instincts are stronger than your inhibitions. You might enjoy this lesson more than I intended.” He removed his fingers and pressed something cool and blunt against her bottom.
“What is that?” It was a stupid question. The answer was self-evident.
“We call them anal inserts. I believe humans call them butt plugs. I prefer our term. It sounds less damaging.”
Flora tried not to tense. Part of her wanted the fullness he’d just withdrawn. Part of her wanted him to overwhelm her senses so completely that the universe ceased to exist. Nothing made sense right now. She was ready for oblivion.
He drove the insert into her with steady pressure. It felt odd, but intriguing. Her opening stretched, then stretched some more. Her muscles began to burn and then a burst of pain obliterated any enjoyment. “That hurts.” She tried to wiggle away, but he pressed down on the small of her back and held her firmly in place.
“Punishments are meant to hurt, but you will not be harmed. Relax and accept this lesson. The sting will ease.”
The thickest part of the insert passed into her and her opening contracted. She let out her breath and tried to relax, but she felt so incredibly full. She’d seen images of butt plugs on the internet. She just never imagined having one used on her. He applied more lube to her pucker then drew the toy outward until her opening was stretched tight again.
“Stop,” she cried as the burning intensified again. “That really hurts.”
“It will hurt until your body adjusts to being entered. This will help prepare you for my cock.”
She whimpered. She’d had a horrible feeling that was where this was leading. “I don’t want to be punished like that. Can’t you spank me again?”
“The choice is not yours anymore.” He pushed the toy inward then pulled it nearly out. The motion was slow and cruel. “We offered to break you in slowly, to tenderly teach you Altorian ways.” He moved the device faster, his strokes punitive.
She consciously released the tension in her muscles, hoping to lessen the burn. The more it hurt, the faster she became aroused and she didn’t want to like anything about this. “I’m sorry. All right? I should have chosen pleasure. Please, ask the question again.”
He pushed the plug deep and left it inside her as he drew her legs even farther apart. “Your pussy is ours to enjoy in whatever way we choose.” He slapped her slit, the impact harder than before.
Flora cried out, shaking with anger and frustration. It hurt and yet it made her wild, made her ache and burn. He spanked her again, waiting as the harsh sensations penetrated. Then he spanked her again. “Do you want my hand or Noratu’s cock?”
“Noratu,” she said without hesitation. “I want Noratu.”
“Then beg him. Say ‘please, Master N, fuck my naughty pussy. Fuck it really hard.’”
Her lips trembled and the final flickers of defiance sputtered out. “Please, Master N, fuck my naughty pussy. Fuck me really hard.”
“That’s our good girl,” Draven praised as he moved aside.
Noratu released her arms and went to stand behind her.
She remained exactly as Draven had left her, bent over, legs open, pussy and punished ass on display. Wasn’t someone going to take out the plug? She didn’t want to have sex with Noratu while that thing was still inside her.
Noratu grasped her hips and drew her away from the bed. “Hands and knees, ass in the air.”
How romantic, she grumbled mentally as she sank to the floor and assumed the position he requested. No longer pretending that this was anything but fucking, she spread her legs and rolled her hips, blatantly offering her pussy. She didn’t understand her body’s reaction to their cruelty, but there was no escaping the hunger Draven had unleashed. She needed sex and she needed it now.
“The female form never fails to fascinate me,” Noratu said softly. “But our mate is exceptionally pleasing.” He knelt behind her and traced her slit, then parted her folds so he could view her inner flesh. “Is this sweet little hole ready for my cock? I am more than ready for you.”
She didn’t bother pretending this wasn’t what she wanted. She needed him too badly. “Yes, Master N,” she whispered, her entire body thrumming with anticipation.
Noratu positioned himself at her entrance, then grasped her hips. He entered her slowly, but advanced with obvious purpose. She opened for him, stretching tight around his thickness. She drew in a deep breath, fighting the urge to tense. He felt huge.
“Wait. I think…”
His steady advance drove the breath from her lungs and ended her argument before it fully formed. He pulled nearly out, adjusted his angle, then pushed back in much faster than before. Her body gradually accepted the invasion, relaxing until the discomfort faded and all she felt was full.
His hips rocked steadily, sliding his cock in and out of her snug passage. “I’m not going to last very long.”
She wasn’t sure if the comment was meant to reassure her or encourage her to relax and let the pleasure build. The slide felt nice and the fullness was welcome, but her arousal was barely simmering.
Suddenly, Draven fisted the back of her hair and drew her head up and to the side. He’d released his cock and was stroking it with his other hand. “Part your lips, girl,” he ordered. “I’m going to fuck that sassy mouth.”
She paused long enough to look at him. His cock was long and thick, and chalk-white just like his face. The basic shape was similar to a human man’s but the tip was less flared. His fingers tightened, warning her that he expected to be obeyed. She licked her lips, then took the tip of his cock into her mouth. His skin was hot, his flesh hard, his taste unique and inviting. Salty, yet sweet, his taste lacked the musky undertone of a human’s.
Draven gave her a moment to explore, then drove to the back of her mouth. She raised one hand, meaning to wrap her fingers around the portion of his shaft still outside of her lips.
He caught her wrist and shook his head. “If I want your touch, I will tell you. Now, tilt your head back and suck me properly.”
His hands settled on either side of her face, his long fingers wrapping around the back of her head. She held still and fought back the urge to struggle. Noratu resumed his steady rhythm, his length filling her over and over. Soon Draven echoed Noratu’s strokes, sliding in and out of her mouth.
They possessed her body and controlled her life. Was this what her existence would be from now on? Mindless fucking and obedience? Hopelessness swelled within her and tears blurred her vision. She might never see Earth again. Her family had been torn apart. She had no idea who she really was or what it meant to be a conduit. She wanted to mean something to her mate. Even having more than one would be bearable if they loved her.
“Look at me,” Draven ordered.
She forced her lids to raise and looked into his eyes.
“You are safe with us. We will protect you. But even more important, no one will ever harm you because you will never be powerless again.” He continued to fuck her mouth, but his gaze was even more penetrating than his cock.
Energy pushed into her mind, making her entire body tingle. The same sensation curled up through her body, intensifying the sensations in her mind. She moaned, her inner walls fluttering around Noratu’s thrusting cock. Were they creating these sensations or was she about to pass out?
“Come, firebird,” Noratu urged. “Let the pleasure sweep you along.” He reached beneath her and found her clit, encouraging her surrender.
She focused on the crimson flames dancing in the depths of Draven’s eyes. Heat washed over her, sensitizing her skin and making her nipples tingle. Her core compressed as tension gathered. Noratu fucked her harder, rubbing her clit in time to his slapping hips. Draven tilted her head back, nearly gagging her with each demanding stroke.
Her orgasm hit with forceful intensity, blurring her surroundings. Pulses of sensation radiated from her pussy, passing through her torso and zinging down her shaking limbs. Draven’s hot cum slipped down her throat and his distinct taste filled her mouth. Noratu came a millisecond later, filling her pussy with his seed. For just a moment reality slowed. She felt suspended and slightly removed from the chaos that had taken over her life. It was peaceful, perfect, and then pain stabbed into her brain shattering the illusion.
She screamed around Draven’s cock, shocked and confused by the sudden sensory attack. She fought against their restraining hands, terrified and wanting them out of her body.
“Easy,” Draven said, his gaze capturing hers again. “We’re almost done. The worst is over. Be still and let us finish.”
The pain gradually subsided, but they made no move to separate from her. Her jaw ached. Her pussy and ass felt tender and overused. Tears slipped from her eyes and trailed down her flushed cheeks. Why where they still inside her? She’d felt both of them come.
Draven brushed the hair back from her face, wiping her tears away with his thumbs. Noratu rubbed her back and cupped her breasts, his touch soothing. She closed her eyes, no longer fighting the urge to run, yet confused by their stillness.
Then something inside her shifted. Her mind seemed to open and expand. Sensations and emotions flowed into her mind, perceptions that couldn’t possibly be hers. She saw herself kneeling on the floor, Noratu buried deep in her pussy, Draven in her mouth. They still wore their uniforms, only their cocks exposed. She was completely naked, her bottom still pink from her spanking.
“We will teach you how to shield your mind,” Draven said as he slowly pulled out of her mouth. “The link needs to be wide open now, but it will not always remain so.”
She licked her lips, savoring the taste of his cum and already missing the demanding slide of his shaft across her tongue. Her orgasm had been interrupted by the pain and her body craved more. Draven brushed his fingers along her cheek and smiled. She saw it all in her mind because her eyes were still closed.
“You are doing very well.” Noratu gave her breasts a firm squeeze then slowly pulled out of her pussy. She watched his long cock emerge wet with their combined juices. He righted his uniform then scooped her up, rotating her body so she rested in the cradle of his arms. “Open your eyes, love.”
Reluctantly, she obeyed. The psychic connection was new and exciting. She wanted to explore all the unfamiliar perceptions.
Noratu carried her to the bed and placed her so her hips were at the edge of the mattress and her legs hung over the side. He bent her knees then rotated her legs out. “Hold your legs like this.”
She reached down and grasped the backs of her knees, unsure why he wanted her in such a vulnerable position. She’d cooperated while they fucked her. “Did I do something wrong?”
“No, firebird. You were perfect.”
His sexy smile made him so damn handsome she could hardly bear to look at him.
“The first time is always hard on the female, and the ritual has just begun.” Noratu said as he took the jar Draven handed him and unscrewed the top. He dipped his fingers into the thick contents. “This will soothe the soreness and make the next phase less painful.”
She liked the idea of being soothed, but wasn’t sure she could handle more phases. Noratu coated her slit with the cream and she moaned. The substance felt cool and almost instantly eased the tenderness. He took his time, caressing her tender flesh until all she felt was the gentle glide of his touch. Then he pushed two cream-coated fingers into her core. He didn’t move them, just left them inserted inside her.
“Tighten your cunt around my fingers.”
The word made her cringe. She had always hated that word. It was so crass, so explicit.
Noratu smiled and slid his fingers slowly in and out. “You might not like that word, but your cunt loves to be fucked. It squeezed me so tight that I nearly came twice before I was ready for it to end.”
She was so embarrassed by his words that she nearly missed the implication. How had he known she hated that word? “Can you both read my mind now?”
“Draven could hear your thoughts before and I am empathic. The link gives all three of us access to the others,” Noratu explained. “It takes a little practice, but you’ll soon master the skill.”
Which brought her back to his semi-playful boast. “My body has never been this responsive before,” she admitted. “Is that because of our mind link too?”
“It’s because you were being fucked by your mates.” Draven’s authoritative voice intruded on her moment with Noratu.
She shot him an annoyed look, but didn’t comment.
Noratu gently withdrew his fingers then switched places with Draven.
She followed Noratu with her eyes, not ready to face her tormentor.
“Conduits always bond with their sources first,” Draven told her. “It’s natural for you to dislike me. But you will soon understand why both of us are necessary and equally important.”
Shifting her gaze back to Draven, she narrowed her eyes. “You’re a necessary evil?”
“Call me what you like, but you will beg for my involvement before this night is through.” He reached down and rotated the butt plug then slowly pulled it out.
She groaned, then sighed as her bottom finally relaxed inside and out. Draven set the plug aside as Noratu held out the open jar. Draven coated his fingers with the cream and Flora sucked in a breath, easily guessing where it would be applied. Draven’s fingers felt nice as they massaged the cream into the tender flesh around her rear opening. She even managed not to tense up when he eased a finger inside. But he slid that finger in and out while he teased her clit with the thumb of his other hand.
“Say you’re sorry and I’ll let you come. Glare at me again and I’ll spank your lovely pussy.”
“I’m sorry I don’t like you.” She closed her eyes, knowing the price of her smartass apology. She didn’t have long to wait. The finger in her ass pushed deep and then his other hand slapped her folds hard enough to make her cry out.
“You do not have to like me, but I will not tolerate disrespect.” He spanked her slit again, pushing a second finger into her ass. He alternated stinging slaps and forceful thrusts with his fingers.
Dark desire coiled within her, winding tighter with each repetition. She wanted to part her folds and expose her clit so the spanking would hurt even worse. She wanted his long, thick cock stretching her, using her, while his fingers punished her clit. The urge was irrational, but real, and she wasn’t sure how to resist it.
“Draven,” Noratu said sharply. “The ritual is not complete. We can discipline her later.”
Draven sighed. “This is a reprieve, not a pardon.” He withdrew his fingers and disappeared into the bathroom, likely to dispose of the plug and wash his hands.
She started to lower her legs, but Noratu said, “Always hold yourself open until you are given permission to close your legs.”
Another rule to add to her list. “Yes, Master N.” Draven’s cruel slaps had renewed the aching in her pussy. She felt restless and needy.
Noratu moved between her legs and opened the front of his pants. His cock sprang free and he stroked the hard length while his smoldering gaze moved over her naked body. “Turn around, mate and lie on your back, head hanging over the side.”
The position was strange and confusing. Why did he want her upside down? She nervously licked her lips, but positioned herself as he directed. Was he angry with her? His harsh tone and grim expression reminded her of Draven. What had caused the drastic shift in Noratu’s mood?
She lay on her back, looking up at him, but her head was on the mattress rather than hanging over the side. “If this is another punishment, I don’t know what I did wrong.”
“This is not punishment, but you will likely find it upsetting. The next phase will be challenging for both of us so I think it is wise to reinforce our psychic link,” he told her. “Dominating your body will give me easier access to your mind. The kind of control I need cannot be taken. It must be offered freely. Can you trust me long enough for this exchange and submit willingly?”
She gazed up at him, heart beating out her excitement. She barely knew these males. How could she possibly trust them enough to submit completely? But she searched his golden eyes and explored the emotions revealed by their bond. Longing, determination and hope, she sensed myriad feelings from him but nothing that made her feel threatened. He honestly believed this was necessary and that they would both benefit from the exchange.
Her heart gave a little flutter and her core clenched hard as she whispered, “I’ll trust you this once. Take control of my body.”
Noratu’s sexy smile sent a tingle down her spine and made her clit twitch needfully.
He caught her under her arms and pulled her toward him until her head was no longer supported by the mattress. “Relax your neck and let your head drop back.”
She still didn’t understand why he wanted her upside down, but she’d promised to surrender control. Her neck relaxed and she lowered her head, arching her neck in the process.
“Open your mouth and lick my cock,” Noratu directed. “Get me good and wet.”
She licked his tip and then farther and farther down until his entire length gleamed with her saliva. His taste was a heady mixture of his cum and her own fluids. It made her clit tingle and her nipples harden. He wasn’t even touching her.
“Draven went easy on you,” Noratu said as he pushed deeper into her mouth. “This time you’re going to relax that throat and take it all.”
Her eyes widened and she sucked in a breath, hoping he didn’t mean that literally. He was so long. She couldn’t imagine how she would ever take his entire length into her mouth. He slid steadily, rubbing against her lips and tongue. She licked and occasionally sucked, but mainly she just offered him the warm wetness of her willing mouth.
“Such a good girl,” Noratu murmured. “Stay nice and open for me.”
He moved closer, his balls starting to brush her face as he pushed deeper into her mouth. He stroked her breasts, teasing and lightly pinching her nipples.
Someone moved her legs apart, bending her knees frog-style to give them access to her pussy. Noratu’s hands were on her breasts, so it had to be Draven. He pet her folds and teased her clit, circling her opening without inserting his fingers inside her.
Their teasing touches and the patient slide of Noratu’s cock in and out of her mouth combined to make her restless and needy. She moaned, sucking greedily to communicate her dissatisfaction.
“What’s the matter, baby?” Noratu whispered, pinching both nipples as he drove all the way to the back of her mouth. “Ready for something a little more intense?”
They could read her mind now, so she responded silently. Yes. Please, stop teasing me.
“Your mouth is mine to use,” Noratu reminded. “You will relax and let me enjoy it.” His cock pressed against the back of her mouth then went deeper, a lot deeper.
Flora struggled for a moment then centered her mind and stilled her body. She felt the need to gag but quickly swallowed and the urge dissipated. Noratu pulled back, then drove even deeper. She surrendered to his need, offering her throat, her breasts, her entire body. She was his to use and it thrilled her, excited her in a way she’d never experienced before.
He fucked her steadily now, his entire length shuttling in and out of her mouth. His smell surrounded her and his taste coated her tongue. She spread her arms out to the sides, opening herself, surrendered completely to his need.
Draven parted her folds and bent to suck on her clit. She squeaked, bucking for a moment then going lax again. Noratu was still pinching her nipples and the combination quickly had her teetering on the brink of orgasm.
I need to come, she cried mentally. Please, Masters, may I come?
“Come, firebird. Offer us your pleasure,” Noratu urged.
Her orgasm hit fast and hard, tearing through her like a wildfire. She cried out around his cock and arched her back. The sensations faded as quickly as they struck and she was left with the intrusive slide of Noratu’s cock. He was grasping her waist now and his balls slapped against her face with each of his demanding thrusts. Old insecurities and a lifetime of human mores eroded her calm, making her want to protest and struggle.
She closed her eyes and focused inward, wanting to experience this exchange from their perspective. The image formed with shocking detail. Not only could she see herself through Noratu’s eyes, she could feel what they were feeling. Her body sprawled on the bed pale and rounded, breasts swaying as he thrust into her mouth. Her cheeks were deeply flushed, lips stretched wide around his thickness. Her legs were bent and splayed, allowing Draven to play with her pussy. She looked soft and beautiful to them, incredibly desirable. Her surrender thrilled them, which made her feel powerful. Using her body was enjoyable to them, but they wanted so much more than a few moments of mindless pleasure. They wanted to claim her as their mate, own her, protect and provide for her. They wanted to build a future with her.
Humbled and shocked by the intensity of their emotions, she sank further into submission. They already controlled her body, so she opened her mind, inviting them in, revealing her trust by making herself vulnerable.
“Perfect, firebird.” Noratu gave her his entire length with each stroke, momentarily blocking her air while his cock was down her throat. “You are so fucking perfect.”
She sucked in air as his cock allowed and patiently waited while he used her throat. He moved faster, balls slapping against her face. Tears ran out of the corners of her eyes, but she wasn’t upset. She felt free, fully alive for the first time in her life. This was what it meant to be Altorian. This was what she had been missing her entire adult life.
Noratu’s cock pushed well into her throat. He shuddered and moaned. Hot seed dripped down her throat, then he quickly pulled back and finished coming on her tongue. Was this a show of dominance? Draven had done the same thing.
Before she could ask, her body absorbed the cum and a spontaneous orgasm struck. She shook with the intensity, her core spasming needfully. Her clit pulsed, sending waves of sensation flowing through her entire body. Her toes curled and she instinctively sucked hard on his cock, draining it of every last drop.
“Greedy little firebird.” Noratu chuckled. “There is plenty more where that came from.”
She instinctively licked him clean then as he drew out of her mouth. “That was… so weird.”
Both males laughed. “Sounds like Noratu needs to try harder,” Draven advised.
“Challenge accepted.” Noratu spun her around and pulled her butt to the edge of the bed. He quickly draped her legs over his arms and thrust his entire length into her pussy.
Flora gasped. “Why are you still hard?” She pushed up onto her elbows so she could see his long, extremely hard cock, sliding in and out of her core. “I know you came. I felt it and can still taste it.”
“All I have to do is look at your naked body and I get hard.” He pumped into her leisurely, his liquid-gold gaze moving over her. “It will take longer once the triad is fully formed, but you are a very desirable female.”
She lay back down and concentrated on the slide of his body in and out of hers. She felt fuzzy, as if she’d yet to come down from the endorphin rush of her orgasms. “Why do I feel so strange?”
“We tore through the containment around your mystic energy,” Noratu reminded. “It had been compressed for two decades. It is starting to expand. Relax and focus on this.” He covered her clit with his thumb as he fucked into her a little faster.
She tried to do as he suggested. Her arousal was starting to build again, but she was calm enough to think, to analyze the situation. Their mental bond was undeniable. She could sense their emotions and see through their eyes, but she didn’t feel powerful. Maybe they were wrong about her being a conduit, or maybe her years on Earth had done something to her abilities.
She looked up at Noratu. His exotic beauty captivated her. It was an inescapable reminder that she was on a spaceship on her way to an alien planet. His hair glowed from within, the color of autumn leaves seeming to flow from one strand to another. His skin tone had changed too. It was more copper now than gold.
“Don’t fear me, love.” His thrusts became more aggressive, his expression fiercer. “The fire cannot harm you. Don’t be afraid.”
She didn’t understand his need to reassure her until the flames came barreling into her mind. She went wild, struggling and bucking, determined to escape the inferno.
Suddenly, Draven was there. He grabbed her wrists and pinned them to the mattress, then collared her throat with his long fingers. “Be still. We are your mates. We will never harm you, but you will submit to this.”
Noratu fucked her fast and hard. The fire grew brighter and burned hotter with each penetration of his cock. She screamed, terrified yet on the verge of orgasm.
The pleasure finally struck and her back bowed clear off the bed. Another scream was torn from her throat by the intensity of the sensations. His cock pounded into her, prolonging the spasms. Her mind locked up, her body shuddering violently as one orgasm led to another. And another.
She sprawled there when the sensations finally released her. Noratu possessed her pussy with his cock while his energy saturated her being. The flames licked at her flesh and her mind, yet there was no pain, no damage. Only heat, so much heat. Noratu jackhammered into her for a moment then came in scalding spurts. She moaned as another orgasm was triggered by his seed. She burned, mindless and helpless, trapped within the flames.
“He will help you, love,” Noratu whispered as he paused to caress her breasts. “Trust him as you have trusted me.” Then he pulled out of her well-fucked pussy and moved away.
Draven moved between her thighs but didn’t immediately enter her. “Look at me, Flora.”
She dragged her gaze to his, waiting for the conflagration inside her to subside. Why was she still burning? “Hot,” she whispered. “Why is it so damn hot?”
“Noratu released the Altorian Flame,” Draven explained. “Now it’s time for me to control it.”
“How?” she recovered enough to ask. The fire was starting to sting her skin and the heat was overwhelming. Still, she didn’t want him to fuck her ass, and she strongly suspected that was his plan. “I don’t want you to—”
“I will determine what is necessary, and you will submit to my demands.” He thrust into her pussy and covered her clit with his thumb. “I am in control, not you.”
She shook her head. Each time she came the flames leapt higher and the heat intensified. “Too much.”
“You are afraid, but you need to trust me as you trusted Noratu.”
“Anything but that.” She knew he would understand what she meant.
He dominated her with his cock and the persistent circling of his thumb. “You will come when I tell you to come and obey my every order. Isn’t that right, mate?”
“I don’t want you to,” she cried, unsure why she was being so stubborn. Everything they had done so far resulted in blinding pleasure. Draven had promised not to harm her and she could not control this fire on her own. She needed to trust him, to silence her inhibitions and just let go.
When she didn’t immediately agree with him, he pinched her clit. She screamed, more from frustration than pain, though the discomfort was sharp.
He fucked her fast and hard, controlling her responses with his thumb. “Come for me. Now.”
She was too lost in the fire to do anything else. Her orgasm detonated in sharp little bursts. It allowed her to escape the scorching heat for just a moment and then the flames returned. The rippling of her inner muscles triggered his release. She felt his cum splash inside her pussy and she came again. The second orgasm was stronger and lasted longer. Pleasure melded with the fire, scorching her from within. She screamed, shaking helplessly as each rippling spasm intensified the heat.
He pulled out and flipped her over, spreading her legs with his knees. Her clit twitched and the flames grew hotter. “Please.” She didn’t know if she were begging him to stop or begging for more. She just wanted the burning to end. He smeared lube over and into her tight little hole, making his intentions unmistakable.
Fear spiked through her muddled mind, but it wasn’t enough to put out the flames. “I’ve never…”
“I know.” He held her cheeks open and aligned his cock with her virgin hole. “Relax. I must control your body to control the flames. That means fucking your ass. Is that what you want?”
“Yes, Master D.” Taking a deep breath, she reinforced her resolve and whispered, “Control me.”
He moved his hands to her hips and drove slowly into her ass. Flora’s moan became a whine and finally a strangled scream. His cock was much bigger than the plug had been, and the pain was blinding. She struggled for a millisecond then stilled. Trust. She had promised to trust Draven as she had trusted Noratu. She was Altorian. Her body knew what to do.
Deeper and deeper, his cock filled her tight back passage. She relaxed, accepting him into her body. The searing pain faded, becoming an aching sting. As the shock of his entry eased, the flames intensified, reminding her why they were doing this. He must control her completely before he could focus on the fire. He did not stop until she had taken his entire length. Then he paused, giving her body a few moments to adjust to the overwhelming penetration.
“This ass is mine,” he whispered in her ear. “And I intend to fuck it often.” Pulling back slowly, he withdrew completely, then pushed back inside before her opening had time to contract. “Is enjoying your tightest hole my right as your master and mate?”
“Yes.” She heard the response from far away as if someone else had spoken the word.
“Yes, Master D.”
“Yes, Master D,” she repeated.
He continued to torment her, pulling all the way out before possessing her again. Over and over, he filled her while she was immobilized by his weight. She was utterly helpless, yet it felt almost peaceful. He was in control. All she had to do was submit to his cock, and trust him to protect her from the fire.
Gradually the flames began to cool. They were still intense, yet no longer painful.
She concentrated on the brutal slide of his big cock. It felt uncomfortable, but the sting had receded. She shifted restlessly beneath him. She wanted to move with him, participate rather than simply being used by her master.
He rocked back onto his knees, pulling her hips up in the process. “Hands and knees. Now!” He slapped her ass when she didn’t move fast enough.
Flora folded her legs beneath her and extended her arms. His cock felt even bigger in this position and she sucked in a ragged breath. Draven reached beneath her and squeezed her breasts. “Now you’re going to come on my cock.” He pinched her nipples, then twisted them, sending pain ricocheting through her chest.
She tossed her hair back and cried out, her pussy rippling needfully. The rhythmic tightening made her ass feel even fuller, if that were possible. “May I rub my clit, please? I don’t think I can come like this.”
“No,” he growled and pinched her nipples even harder. “You will do as you’re told and take what I give you.” He punished her nipples as he thrust into her ass. And the heat inside her faded even more.
His long, powerful strokes soon had her arousal building. She surrendered to the pain, accepting without understanding. Her senses simmered. She was lost in a haze of pain and heat. She needed to come and no longer cared how she got there. Draven clearly knew what he was doing, so she surrendered to his mastery.
He moved one of his hands down her body and gave her pussy a firm slap. “I said come!”
“I’m trying,” she snapped.
He spanked her pussy twice, harder than before. “Watch your tone.”
She started to apologize, but the discomfort triggered her stubborn orgasm. She cried out, shaking helplessly as deep spasms of sensation pulsed through her lower body. Her pussy clenched hard, tightening her bottom around his cock. The more she surrendered to his control, the more completely the fire subsided. She could still sense the flames, but they were banked now, controlled.
Draven’s fingers settled over her slit, then one eased between her folds and covered her clit. He wasn’t really caressing her, but the rocking of her body rubbed her against his finger. She moaned, grateful for the compromise.
“Does my little mate like having her ass fucked by her controller?” The dark challenge in his tone made it obvious that he would not tolerate dishonesty.
“Yes, Master D,” she admitted in a whisper. “I don’t want to like this, but it feels incredible.”
He rewarded her by rubbing her clit. He thrust harder and faster, so the conventional stimulation was welcome. Her pussy ached from his slaps and the emptiness inside her was painful. She couldn’t help thinking how much better it would feel if Noratu was fucking her too.
“Soon, greedy mate,” Draven whispered. “You will have both of us soon.”
Not even caring that he’d read her mind, she arched her back and lifted her hips, reveling in the possessive thrust of his body. He moved both hands back to her hips as his thrusts came fast and hard. Her breasts jiggled and her clit twitched, immediately missing the caress of his fingers. He drew her hands to the small of her back, controlling her completely.
She eagerly followed where he led. None of this made sense, but everything they did just seemed to work. She trusted his strength to keep her face from smacking into the bed. The fire simmered, present yet no longer painful.
Her next orgasm hit spontaneously. She cried out sharply as reality blurred. He carefully lowered her to the bed and spread her arms out to the sides. He pushed his entire length into her and shuddered against her back. A hot rush deep inside her told her he finally found release. His weight was lifted off her as the fullness inside her eased.
She lay there stunned and floating in blissful surrender as the Altorian Flame simmered. She still sensed the energy. It was potent, potentially destructive, yet waiting. Waiting for her to release it, she realized with a start.
Panting harshly, she rolled to her side and looked around. Draven sat beside her, his back pressed against the wall. She looked at him, feeling dazed and sleepy. “Am I a conduit now?”
“You tell me.” He reached over and took her hand, a surprisingly gentle impulse. “Look inward. What do you sense?”
“Power,” she admitted. “So much power.”
“We will teach you how to use that power, how to release it.”
She had so many questions and concerns, but she was too tired to voice them.
Draven got off the bed and lifted her long enough for Noratu to pull down the bedding. Then he returned her to the mattress and covered her with a sheet. “Rest. We’ll reach Altor by morning. You will soon be home.”
That’s all until next week’s installment! If you’re aching to finish right now, though, just click below and buy the book!
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